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Role of endothelin and endothelin receptor antagonists in renal disease


  • Department of Physiology, University of Munich, Munich, Germany (W. Neuhofer); Department for Clinical Pharmacology, Medical Faculty, University of Dresden, Dresden, Germany (D. Pittrow).

PD Dr Wolfgang Neuhofer, Department of Physiology, Pettenkoferstrasse 12, 80336 Munich, Germany. Tel.: +49 89 218075203; fax: +49 89 218075512; e-mail:


Endothelin (ET)-1 is a potent vasoconstrictor peptide with pro-inflammatory, mitogenic, and pro-fibrotic properties that is closely involved in both normal renal physiology and pathology. ET-1 exerts a wide variety of biological effects, including constriction of cortical and medullary vessels, mesangial cell contraction, stimulation of extracellular matrix production, and inhibition of sodium and water reabsorption along the collecting duct, effects that are primarily mediated in an autocrine/paracrine manner. Increasing evidence indicates that the ET system is involved in an array of renal disorders. These comprise chronic proteinuric states associated with progressive glomerular and tubulointerstitial fibrosis, including diabetic and hypertensive nephropathy, glomerulonephritis and others. In addition, ET-1 is causally linked to renal disorders characterized by increased renal vascular resistance, including acute ischaemic renal failure, calcineurin inhibitor toxicity, endotoxaemia, hepatorenal syndrome and others. Furthermore, derangement of the ET system may be involved in conditions associated with inappropriate sodium and water retention; for example, in congestive heart failure and hepatic cirrhosis. Both selective and non-selective ET receptor antagonist have been developed and tested in animal models with promising results. As key events in progressive renal injury like inflammation and fibrosis are mediated via both ETA and ETB receptors, while constrictor effects are primarily transduced by ETA receptors, dual ET receptor blockade may be superior over selective ETA antagonism. Several compounds have been developed with remarkable effects in several models of acute and progressive renal injury. Thus, clinical studies are required to assess whether these results can be confirmed in humans, hopefully leading to novel and effective therapeutic options with few side effects.